Aluminum batteries could extend unmanned submarine range

Unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), as they are known technically, are employed for applications ranging from prospecting for oil and gas to naval warfare. Ocean-going drones have limited ranges - limits that are often imposed by their batteries, which are typically alkaline or lead-acid.

Unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), as they are known technically, are employed for applications ranging from prospecting for oil and gas to naval warfare. Ocean-going drones have limited ranges - limits that are often imposed by their batteries, which are typically alkaline or lead-acid. Lithium-ion batteries, fashionable elsewhere, have not conquered the UUV world. Their tendency to catch fire counts against them and they are sensitive to pressure, which is undesirable in devices that operate underwater. A firm in Somerville, Mass., called Open Water Power (OWP) is offering an alternative: batteries based on aluminum. With these, its engineers hope to extend the ranges of underwater drones tenfold.

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